An impressive first half by the Florida Atlantic University football team wasn’t enough to fend off five Owl turnovers which Buffalo converted into 23 points in the Bulls’ comeback 33-15 victory in Boca Raton on Saturday.
“Obviously a disappointing loss,” FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge said. “Certainly some signs of a defensive improvement with a young group in there. Story of the game is pretty obvious: the turnovers. Buffalo had 23 defensive points, so you have to give them all the credit to them and their kids and the plays they were able to make.”
FAU quarterback Jason Driskel threw a school-record 55 attempts for 385 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Jenson Stoshak (pictured) and Kamrin Soloman each broke the century receiving mark with 124 and 120 yards, respectively. Greg Howell rushed 14 times for 75 yards.
Defensively, freshmen Azeez Al-Shaair and Jalen Young had breakout games as Al-Shaair led FAU with 11 tackles and Young picked up eight tackles and an interception.
FAU posted 490 yards of offense while holding Buffalo to 290 and just three third-down conversions.
The Owls (0-3) built a 9-0 lead in the first half. Nick Internicola was credited with a safety to open the scoring in the first quarter.
On their first possession of the second quarter, Jason Driskel dealt a six-yard touchdown pass to Nate Terry to extend the lead to nine after a 33-yard drive.
The Bulls (2-1) got on the board with just over a minute left in the opening half as FAU fumbled and UB’s Brandon Berry scooped it up for a 60-yard return for a touchdown.
In the third, UB’s Adam Mitcheson made a 19-yard field goal at the 8:47 mark to give the Bulls their first lead of the day at 10-9.
On the next play from scrimmage, Boise Ross intercepted a Driskel pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead to 17-9.
With 4:40 to play in the third and FAU on its own one, the Owls were stopped in the backfield by Nick Gilbo for a safety to make it 19-9 Buffalo.
On their next possession, the Bulls drove 68 yards on four plays, culminating in a 19-yard TD rush by Jordan Johnson to go up 26-9.
A lightning quick strike by Driskel kept the Owls alive as he found Kamrin Solomon on a 54-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 26-15 after a failed two-point conversion.
Driskel was sacked on the next drive, coughing up the ball as UB’s defense forced a sack and fumble on the next drive. The Bulls’ Brandon Crawford returned it 11 yards for the final touchdown with 5:40 to play.
The Owls would get into UB territory each of their next two possessions, but did not score.
“We have to keep building on our improvement and hope we get a full week of practice this week,” Partridge said. “So we get a chance to focus on the things that are obvious challenges for us right now.”
FAU goes on the road to open Conference USA play with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 26.